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Bassoonist Ian Barnett (PC: Matt Rainey)

Florida Hospital Establishes Orchestra of Doctors and Nurses to Promote Mental Health

The orchestra, which began as a small group of string players, aims to present four concerts each year


The AdventHealth New Smyrna Beach Hospital, in Florida, has formed an orchestra made up exclusively of doctors and nurses, to help staff take care of their mental health as they deal with the ongoing consequences of the pandemic.

The orchestra was formed by word of mouth and was initially comprised only of string players. It has now expanded to over 60 players, with most all orchestral instruments being represented.

At their first concert in the summer of 2021, the orchestra performed Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings in memory of the patients and colleagues they had lost to COVID-19.

In the future, the group is aiming to present a full concert season, with four different programs each year.

The players say music helped them enormously during the exhausting early days of the pandemic.

"It was a stressful time," said the orchestra's principal bassoonist, nurse Ian Barnett. "We were the COVID unit in this hospital, so I dealt with it from day 1. And I play music and so all of that was shutdown. And there's burnout. You get very fatigued. You go home and you do the same routine over and over."

"When we're playing music and making music together, I'm relaxed and I become centered," he added. "I think it's because we're all together trying to make beautiful music together. It just sort of it centers me. I can't explain."

"I used to teach high school orchestra and I knew that we had several string players in the organization," said Richard Hickam, the orchestra's director. "And I started thinking, we had an event coming up...where we were kind of talking about what was happening and how we could bond together."

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